On the Difficulty of Recognizing the Jewish State of Israel

From the simple recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, peace and a Palestinian state follow. The chief geopolitical excruciation of our time, the Palestinian obsession of the United Nations, the rancor of millions who thrive on demonizing either Israel or Palestinians — all of it shrivels if Palestinians and surrounding Arab states simply recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

But that single, simple step to peace remains elusive. Why?

Note that I am urging Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, not merely Israel’s right to exist. The extremists who cannot even acknowledge Israel’s rudimentary right to exist are part of the permanent insurgency against peace and human decency. They will never entirely disappear, but they can be marginalized.

The question of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is more complicated. It would mean, for example, giving up any Palestinian “right of return” to Israel. Asking Israel to absorb potentially millions, or even hundreds of thousands, of Palestinian refugees in Israel would be an invitation to geopolitical suicide. Eventually, Israel’s Jews would be a minority population. Israel’s Jews cannot become a minority population, for there would then be no defensible homeland for the Jews. Jews would again become beholden to a fickle majority, as they were in Europe and Russia — and to every Jew who vows to remember, this cannot happen. Never again.

We melting-pot Americans are not accustomed to thinking of states as ethnic enclaves — even though they often are. We would chafe at the notion of Guatemala as a Mayan state or Kenya as Kikuyu state. But the viability of Israel as a Jewish state is a special case, rooted in excruciating history.

Think of the Middle East as a football field. Think of Israel and Palestine as two wee postage stamps on this football field. The scale is important for the history that follows.

On October 4, 1946, President Truman issued a statement declaring United States support for creation of a “viable Jewish state.” On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a partition plan that divided the tiny area into three entities: a Jewish state, an Arab state, and an international zone around Jerusalem.

Jews accepted this internationally-sanctioned partition. Arabs did not. At this crucial inception of Israel, there was never any international question that the tiny nation of Israel would be a Jewish state.

There was a sound reason for this tiny new state, and a sound reason that it be Jewish. In 1946, there were still tens of thousands of displaced Jews in Europe, survivors of the Holocaust. The thriving Jewish communities of Europe were all but wiped out. The Nazi machine killed six million Jews and produced a new word: genocide. But the defeat of the Nazis did not defeat homicidal anti-Semitism. Jewish refugees attempting to return to their European homes met murderous bigotry.

The middle 20th-century put to rest forever the notion that Jews, as a minority, could rely on the good will of their host nations. Good and patriotic German Jews, good and patriotic Polish Jews, good and patriotic Hungarian Jews — all died in the gas chambers, or were killed by locals when they tried to return.

Jews needed their own place to live. Their original homeland, the place that gave rise to the Bible, the place where they had a continuous presence for thousands of years, the place where Jews had been going for decades and transforming the land, made sense.

The world understood this in 1947. The world understood that Jews needed one place that they controlled, one place where pogroms were impossible, one place where Jews could be Jews without apology and obsequiousness. The world understood that the people who had suffered the most horrific slaughtering in human history had earned a place of their own.

Arabs also lived in this land. Indeed, Arabs, Jews and Christians had been living side-by-side for quite some time in what was then the British Mandate. And so the world did not give it all to the Jews. The world split it between Arabs and Jews. It was the solution to which everyone now aspires: a Jewish state and an Arab state. Yes, 64 years ago, the world solved the Middle East problem.

The Jews said yes, but the Arabs balked. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, proclaimed the existence of a Jewish state called Israel. President Truman’s administration immediately issued the following statement: “This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the State of Israel.”

On May 15th, Arab states issued their response statement, and Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq attacked the new state of Israel, aided by volunteers from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Libya. It could have been over for Israel then. It very nearly was. The football field attacked the postage stamp with determination to wipe it out.

Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, declared a new genocide against the Jews: “kill the Jews wherever you find them — this serves God.” He really meant it. He had passed the world war with fascists, and while a guest of fascist Italy in 1941, he submitted to the German government a draft declaration of German-Arab cooperation, stating:

Germany and Italy recognize the right of the Arab countries to solve the question of the Jewish elements, which exist in Palestine and in the other Arab countries, as required by the national and ethnic (völkisch) interests of the Arabs, and as the Jewish question was solved in Germany and Italy.

Had the Nazis prevailed in North Africa (they didn’t), they had a plan to exterminate Palestinian Jews and prevent the establishment of a Jewish state, and “the most important collaborator with the Nazis and an absolute Arab anti-Semite was Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem.” Many honorable Palestinians refused to take up arms against the Jews because of their disgust with Haj Amin al-Husseini.

The fledgling state of Israel survived, barely, the attack of every surrounding Arab country. Israel survived again in 1967 and 1973, when Arab regimes attacked Israel with intent to destroy it. The violations of international law, never mind human decency, in these attacks are legion.

Meanwhile, Arab states set about dealing with their Jewish populations, and it wasn’t pretty. Most of Yemeni and Adeni Jews, some 50,000, were evacuated between 1949-1950 in fear of their security. 150,000 Iraqi and Kurdish Jews were encouraged to leave in 1950 by the Iraqi Government, which ordered in 1951 “the expulsion of Jews who refused to sign a statement of anti-Zionism.” The Jews of Egypt began fleeing the country in 1948, and most of the remaining, some 25,000, were expelled in 1956. The Jews of Algeria were deprived of their citizenship in 1962.

So Jews were being systematically kicked out of Arab countries, typically without their property. There could have been a “Jewish refugee” problem exceeding the “Palestinian refugee” problem. But there wasn’t because Israel of course accepted the 800,000-1,000,000 Jews kicked out of Arab countries. Palestinian refugees, meanwhile, suffered horrible deprivations of basic rights by their host countries.

Over 400,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, and they are barred from 73 job categories including professions such as medicine, law and engineering. They are not allowed to own property, and even need a special permit to leave their refugee camps. Unlike other foreigners in Lebanon, they are denied access to the Lebanese health care system. The Lebanese government refused to grant them work permits or permission to own land.

The Arab League has instructed its members to deny citizenship to Palestinian Arab refugees (or their descendants) “to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland.” In other words, Palestinian refugees are pure politics for Arab League members. And that is why the most free Palestinians live in America and Israel.

If I were Palestinian — and sometimes I wish I were just for the test of my character in the teeth of oppression and suffering — I believe I would be skeptical of my Arab brothers and their cynical anti-Semitism, and I believe I would say yes, let there be a Jewish state and a Palestinian state so that I could at least begin to control my own destiny, and I would cease to be a pawn in the games of nations that have done nothing for me except exploit my victim status.

Israel must be a Jewish state. There must be a homeland for Jews. And there must be a homeland for Palestinians. We have not evolved beyond ethnic thinking and ethnic hatred. That will take a while. Meanwhile, there can be peace, accounting for ethnic hatreds — but it must begin with recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

And acceptance of a Jewish state begins with understanding of what happened to Jews. The Holocaust must become real to Palestinians. In the New York Times, Palestinian social scientist Mohammed S. Dajani Doudi and Jewish-American historian Robert Satloff write:

But Palestinians, and Arabs more generally, know little about the Holocaust and what they do know is often skewed by the perverted prism of Arab popular culture, from the ranting of religious extremists to the distortions of certain satellite television channels to the many ill-informed authors. What happened to the Jews during World War II is not taught in Arab schools or universities, either as part of world history or as a lesson in genocide awareness or as an atrocity that ought not to be repeated.

* * *

Almost two years ago millions of Muslim Arabs listened carefully when President Barack Obama, speaking in Cairo, respectfully recited sentences from the Koran and proclaimed America’s endorsement of a two-state solution to achieve a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace. Few, however, remember that he also condemned Holocaust denial. Now that the Arab masses are applying the universal lessons of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in taking down their authoritarian governments, it is time they take back the learning of history, too. That includes teaching their children the universal lessons of the Holocaust.

History, true history, is almost always painful. Understanding why Israel must be a Jewish state is painful. Jews in Israel cannot ever again submit to the tolerance of a host culture. That is absolute.

The Bizarre Frequency of Jew-Hatred

In a world of vast sensitivity to race, ethnicity, and religion, a world of political correctness that pounces upon any hint of disrespect, why are Jews an evident carve-out?

Yes, it is possible that many people with high profiles are pathetically young souls who lack the character to manage their visibility with rudimentary dignity. But why do these rants so routinely go off on the Jews? What makes Mel Gibson and Oliver Stone part of a pop culture phenomenon of hating Jews? Why is it so easy — especially since the haters are typically liberals hating Jews, who are overwhelmingly liberal?

Did we learn nothing from the Holocaust? Has Jew-hatred failed to become sufficiently unacceptable, such that we can indulge a bigotry, just this bigotry, while preserving our liberal bona fides as to all the rest?

The Jews say “never forget,” and would that it were so. If Palestinian Hamas and Fatah are mortal enemies in the Middle East, they at least evidently agree that the Holocaust should never be taught to Palestinian eighth-graders. Teaching the Holocaust, said the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Culture in the Gaza Strip, “is an attempt to impose on us the culture of normalization with the occupation. They want us to accept the tales and lies to win sympathy.” The ministry described the Holocaust as a lie, saying it had been exaggerated to garner sympathy for the “usurping entity” at the expense of the rights and interests of the Palestinians.

Salah al-Wadiyeh, a Fatah representative in the West Bank, said the Holocaust was a “big lie.” The Palestinians, he said, “know more than any other people the history of their enemies and their false claims and lies.”

Calling the Holocaust a “big lie” is equivalent to calling Mohammed a big cheat and sham artist. Yet the latter — actually far less than the latter — triggers riots that actually kill people, and the former is incredibly comfortably part of our discourse.

Charlie Sheen, John Galliano, and Julian Assange are part of a pathology of our discourse, a Jew-hating nonsense that draws sustenance from Palestinian Jew-hate. I don’t care about Charlie Sheen, John Galliano, and Julian Assange. But I care about Middle Eastern peace. And peace is not possible with Jew-hate.

 

Daniel Turns 18, Birth of Egyptian Democracy on Hold

Hod Hasharon, IsraelThe boy was turning 18. “Daddy, wake up,” Daniel says insistently, as I had succumbed to a weird delayed jet lag. It was around 11:30 in the evening (4:30 pm EST). “You are missing history,” he says, “wake up, Mubarak is resigning.”

As abuses of history go, Daniel’s is perhaps the most gentle and heart-warming in history. By the time Daniel wakes me up, it is clear Mubarak has no intention of resigning. That hopeful moment, predicted by too many, had already been dashed in a defiant speech.

But Daniel wants me awake. “Otherwise, you will wake up at 3,” he tries to explain. But in truth, he wants me awake at midnight, when he turns 18. I watch events in Egypt not unfold on an English language TV station upstairs. At 11:59, Daniel yells impatiently, “Daddy, I’m turning 18 and you’re not down here.”

I run downstairs, scolding him for getting upset when it’s only 11:59. Savlanoot is the Hebrew word for patience, and probably for the last time, I say to him, “savlanoot for boys”—my shorthand throughout his childhood for “you’re not even managing the special, indulgent standard of patience for boys.”

When the midnight moment arrives, we hug, everyone hugs him, and even language changes. Now, with my terms of affection, I am obliged to acknowledge his manhood respectfully. “Happy birthday best boy man!” “I love you great boy man.” His innumerable nicknames are longer now. “Dookiemon” (a spin-off from Pokemon, which stuck) is now Dookiemon Man. “Shponk” is now Shponk Man. “Shpinkle MacPinkleWinkle” is now Shpinkle MacPinkleWinkle Man. There are others, but they might embarrass him.

Since I arrived last Friday, I’ve been preparing him for manhood. That cereal box with a cartoon on it? Might want to reconsider. He reminds me that I am Lucky Charms man. True, I concede, I’ve come full circle.

Our game of choice this visit is the manly pursuit of Power Yahtzee. We’ve taken to calling it “Schmatz,” which serves as noun and verb. “Hey, wanna’ Schmatz it up a bit?” We’re competitive in that manly way, but with a dollop of manly solidarity. He rolls four ones, but already has ones. He goes for the Yahtzee. “I’m a man, and this is what men do.” I sing the anthem that necessarily accompanies such courage. “He know’s he’s a man, he knows he’s a ma-a-a-an.” (I take the melody from an old U.S. Army commercial jingle. Or maybe Wheaties. Can’t recall.)

And now my son is a man, already an inspiration of a man, a man of good character, good will, and good humor in a region where men are tested in ways we Americans can barely comprehend. When, that is, they survive to manhood. In Pakistan earlier this week, a young Taliban boy walked into an army compound wearing a school uniform and blew himself up, killing 31 and wounding many others.

More hopefully, an Israeli woman gave birth in a Palestinian hospital on Wednesday. For security reasons, Israeli citizens are barred from visiting Palestinian areas. The woman, a Jew who speaks only Hebrew and who converted to Islam, was with her Arab Israeli husband in Ramallah when she went into labor. The rarity of the occurrence sparked a visit from the town mayor and flowers from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The couple named the boy Omri, a name used by both Jews and Arabs.

The poet Rilke said God is in all beginnings. Let it be so, and let Him persist with His grace—for Daniel’s new manhood, for Omri, for the still hopeful birth of Egyptian democracy, and for the faintest stirrings of a durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

 

UPDATE: Mubarak resigns. It may not yet quite be the beginning of democracy, but it is the definitive end of one despot.

A Palestinian-American Responds

My recent post, How Palestinians Alienate Americans and Undermine Prospects for a Two-State Solution, garnered a comment on Facebook, and it’s sufficiently important and eloquent to reproduce here.  Its author is Nader Hasan, a Palestinian-American, an accomplished Virginia lawyer and family man, a very dear friend for nearly two decades, and one of the most honorable human beings I’ve been privileged to know.

Kendrick, nice piece but I disagree. After my visits to the occupied territories, including 3 weeks this summer and 3 times last year, I do not believe that the majority of the Palestinian population calls for the destruction of Israel any longer, or even the eventual destruction… Yes, there are still a few old die-hards who will chant “down with Israel” because that’s all they know, the same who believe Arafat was poisoned… But my conversations with Palestinians provide that the Palestinian view towards Americans, in general, is changing for the better. (I think they really do believe now, with shock, that most Americans are ignorant to the conflict and have no idea, so they are not as mad – electing Obama, with the middle name Hussein, didn’t hurt either and clearly blew their minds) but, yes, they are losing hope for the two-state solution when one state is disappearing with continued settlements and the US can’t do anything about it… The 20-40 yr olds are tired and worn out, do not care about a nation any longer, and now say, “sure, take all the land, call it all Israel, and we shall be Israelis… we just want to travel and have options for education and have real life experiences.. rather than be confined.”  And Kendrick, until you travel through the Calandia checkpoint, you do not realize that the West Bank and Gaza are literally two huge prisons. So giving up the hope for a Palestinian state in exchange for freedom is an easy sell.

But then they ask the question, “since Israel is a democracy, we will have equal rights, correct?” Unfortunately, the reply is, “No. You must be Jewish or you must leave.”

What? Not even Palestinian reservations like we provided the Native American Indians? I guess the lure of alcohol and gambling probably won’t attract them to that idea, although it worked in Jericho for a while.

I like Rabin’s son’s idea, the Israeli Peace Initiative. Makes sense. True path to peace. As an American, it is in our interests to see a Palestinian state created.. Don’t care about the borders… MOST IMPORTANT – this will undermine terrorist recruitment against USA. How? Terrorists will no longer be able to manipulate this conflict by telling Muslim kids that that the US support of Israel and its continued settlements proves that the US is at war with Islam and is on a biblical path to have all of Israel (river to river) returned to the Jewish people. It’s bs, I know we Americans laugh at that pitch, but imagine if you were ignorant and living in the Middle East. It’s an easy sell, especially after the war in Iraq.

K, love you, bro, always. Daniel is always in my thoughts and prayers. Peace be with you.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda

Readers of my blog know well my steadfast support for and love of Israel, naturally not least because my beloved son Daniel is Israeli.  Now readers of my blog will know of my abiding respect and affection for Nader Hasan.  I cannot write about what I perceive as Palestinian missteps, distortions, and abominations without the image of my friend Nader Hasan squarely before me, chastening me with his humanity, forcing me to qualify my notions, and softening my rhetoric.

In a different context, I wrote the following:

How deeply I would wish for every liberal to love a conservative, for every conservative to love a liberal. Without this very human dialectic, we’re deeply ignorant. We never gain any insight into how the other person thinks, what buttons send them spiraling into pre-rational realms, how precisely they are able to hear us but not listen to us, and vice versa.

How deeply I would wish for every Jew to love just one Muslim, and for every Muslim to love just one Jew.  Then there would truly be peace.

I do not agree with everything Nader said in his reply, but I respect enormously his honorable forthrightness, his sincerity in engaging, and his intelligent devotion to a path that yields peace.  The details of my disagreement, then, become inconsequential.  Love you bro.

 

How Palestinians Alienate Americans and Undermine Prospects for a Two-State Solution

 

Most Americans delve none too deeply into the details of global conflicts.  They rely instead on a hierarchy of common sense.  I will kill you, for example, trumps I will be mean to you.  Their preferences are governed by certain basic narratives.  The competing details are inconsequential if one side loses a basic narrative.

For most Americans, Palestinians lose a basic narrative.  The histories and politics in that tiny patch on the edge of the Eastern Mediterranean are vastly complex.  Most Americans never try to understand it.  They understand instead that support for Israel is honorable, and that Palestinians violate a basic precept of American identity.  They desire the extinction of a nation and its people.  For most Americans, no further inquiry is necessary, no burrowing into claims and counterclaims, no assessment of competing grievances.  The Palestinian desire for the extinction of Israel settles the matter.

It’s unsurprising that Palestinians desire the permanent removal of this Jewish blot in Dar al-Islam.  Most Americans get it, and therefore support Israel.  Westerners at large, including the Obama administration, advance a different narrative, focused on competing grievance minutiae, and therefore botch the “peace process” with inordinate focus on Jewish settlements.

There will never be a peace process of consequence until Palestinians give up their desire for the extinction of Israel.  An administration better schooled in basic narratives, as opposed to grievance minutiae, would have understood this.

Most Palestinians, 60% according to a recent poll by The Israel Project, support a “two-state solution.”  As do we all.  The Israel Project poll uniquely delves a little deeper with a follow-up question to Palestinians:  is the goal a permanent two-state solution, or is the goal “to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state?”

Thirty percent chose the first option, 60 percent the second.  Israeli peace concessions, in other words, are to most Palestinians the gravy on the way to getting rid of Israel.

Thus do Palestinians destroy their credibility with most Americans and make fools of Westerners devoted to Palestinian statehood.

Israel’s exercise of its power in Palestinian territories is not without excess, and even less without justification.  Israel currently confronts an implacably hostile people devoted to its extinction — but thankfully now without the powers and resources of statehood to act decisively on that desire.  Existentially, then, much commends the status quo.

Most Americans, despite their dim grasp of grievance minutiae, get it.  This administration, with its immersion in grievance minutiae, doesn’t.

 

Fake Muslim graves in Jerusalem

All the ideological screeching aside, there is a jostling for real estate in the Middle East.  Israel, being about the size of New Jersey, rather desperately needs it — being surrounded by Arab countries that have repeatedly invaded it with intent to destroy it, and a divided Palestinian entity that, on the one hand (Gaza), reviles Israel, denies its right to exist, and lobs bombs into Israel cities, and on the other hand (West Bank), thankfully, merely teaches their children that Jews are bent on world domination, the proof of which, incorporated into Palestinian high school textbooks, is the discredited forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Real estate jostles have been common among Middle Eastern neighbors for millennia.  Biblical Israel itself suffered the jostling of the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Persians.  What makes this modern real estate jostling profoundly unique is the standard applied by the international community to minor jostling by Jews versus minor jostling by Muslims.

When a minor Israeli official announced renewed building in a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem, a neighborhood never conceived by either side as negotiable, the Obama administration went bizarrely ballistic, and the international community, doubtless puzzled, said, “um, okay, what he said.”

When Muslims build fake Muslim graves in East Jerusalem with no one buried in them, for the sole sake of expanding Muslim territory from which Jews are excluded, no one went ballistic.  No one said anything, certainly no one in the Obama administration.  That was okay.  In fact, the Waqf, the Muslim entity in charge of the fake graves, petitioned the Israeli courts to let it continue, to stop Jerusalem from removing the fake graves.  Such are the liberties of Muslims in Israel.

Whatever happens in that case — oral argument is imminent — it bears noting that oral argument is imminent.  Muslims in Israel are allowed to make the case in a court of law that they should be allowed to build fake Muslim graves without interference by Israeli authorities.  Would that Jews had been treated with such solicitude in Muslim countries.  What has happened to Jews in Muslim countries over the last fifty years — the pogroms, the persecutions, the expulsions — let’s just say the UN Human Rights Council hasn’t been perturbed.

The UN Human Rights Council has been most perturbed about Israel.  Indeed, it has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 U.N. states combined (including 20th and 21st century perpetrators of genocide).

Honestly, whatever one’s thoughts about what Israel does, can it be doubted that Israel is under siege?  Can it be doubted that the very United Nations that created Israel under international law in 1948 now slyly repents that decision and commits its American-contributed resources relentlessly to undermining Israel?

It’s simple arithmetic.  There are 46 Muslim countries, and 50+ countries with substantial Muslim minorities.  There is one Jewish country.  Not surprising that the Jewish country routinely loses in the court of international opinion.

The United States has honorably supported Israel, still the lone democracy in the Middle East.  Supporting Israel and supporting surrounding Arab regimes are not mutually exclusive.  When Arab regimes sincerely countenance peaceful co-existence, peace is possible.  When the Palestinians drop their bombs, accept Israel, and truly desire statehood, it will be theirs.

 

Yom Kippur, the Yom Kippur War, and Yonatan Netanyahu

Let’s agree that the ethnic people of every sovereign state have a right to exist.  There is no more fundamental right.  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness apply to individuals.  Long before reaching these inalienable rights, there is a people’s right to exist — the most basic human right, the freedom from genocide.

Let’s agree that freedom from genocide is not negotiable.  It’s not a “bargaining chip.”  It is basic.

The world acknowledged Israel’s and Palestine’s right to exist on November 29, 1947.  By a 33-13 vote (with 10 abstentions), the United Nations voted in favor of partition, and the right to exist of both Israel and Palestine.  Every Muslim nation voted no, along with Cuba, Greece and India.  The Palestinians effectively rejected their right to exist if it meant Israel would exist, and waged war on the fledgling state of Israel.  Muslim nations have been exploiting that Palestinian mistake, at tremendous Palestinian expense, ever since.

Having lost the world vote in which they freely participated, the Muslim nations surrounding Israel invaded Israel, with intent to destroy.  The Israelis fought for the right to exist.  At considerable sacrifice, they won.  Militarily, barely, Israel secured the right to exist — though it would take two more multi-front invasive wars against them, in 1967 and 1973, each with the intent to destroy Israel, to underscore Israel’s determination to exist.

The 1973 war, the Yom Kippur War, happened exactly 37 years ago — an Arab invasion on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, when Jews are commanded to fast, to pray, to cease all work, and to seek forgiveness and atonement.  It is one of the most cynical military decisions in history — and historically relevant to our current raging debate about the proper reciprocity of Western sensitivity to Islam and Muslim sensitivity to Western Christianity, Judaism and Western values.  There could be no more profound disrespect of Judaism than a military attack on Yom Kippur.

During the Yom Kippur War, Yonatan “Yoni” Netanyahu was a commander in the elite Israeli commando unit Sayeret Matkal, in Israel called “the Unit.”  His distinguished service in the Golan Heights against the invading Syrians earned him (at risk of tautology) the Medal of Distinguished Service.  Having been repeatedly heroic, Yoni’s ultimate heroism happened again in the service of Sayeret Matkal, in 1976.

In June 1976, Air France Flight 139 was hijacked by Palestinians and Germans.  The hijackers diverted the plane to Libya, refueled, and departed for Entebbe Airport in Uganda, where, upon landing and making demands, they separated the passengers into Jews and Gentiles.  One of the Jews showed the Auschwitz number tattooed on his arm, and a German captor said, “I’m no Nazi! I’m an idealist.”

The Israelis were realists.  Operation Entebbe, the rescue of 100+ hostages in Uganda on July 4th, 1976, lasted 53 minutes.  All seven hijackers, including the idealist, were killed.  Of the 105 hostages, three were killed and approximately ten were wounded.  The rescued hostages were flown to Israel.  Only one commando, Yonatan Netanyahu, lost his life.

Idi Amin was humiliated.  Believing Kenya colluded with Israel, the Ugandan dictator ordered the massacre of hundreds of Kenyans living in Uganda.  He also ordered the murder of a Jewish hostage that had been moved to a Ugandan hospital.  Being generally murderous and despicable, his regime crumbled.  He lived out his life peacefully in exile in Saudi Arabia, where he died in 2003.

As either Israeli or supporter of Israel, it is difficult to be other than a realist.  As either Israeli or supporter of Israel, the first principle is the right to exist.

In 1967, just before the Six Day War, Yonatan Netanyahu wrote in a letter, “we sit and wait.  What are we waiting for?  Well it’s like this…” and he told a parable of an Englishman, an American, and an Israeli caught by a tribe of cannibals.  They were in the pot, about to be boiled, and granted a last wish.  The Englishman asked for a whiskey and a pipe.  The American asked for a steak.  Both were granted.  The Israeli asked for the chief of the tribe to give him a swift kick in the ass.  Though confused, the chief granted the request and gave the Israeli a swift kick in the ass.  The Israeli then pulled out a gun and killed all of the cannibals.  The stunned Englishman and American asked him, “if you had a gun, why didn’t you kill them sooner?”  “Are you crazy?” answered the Israeli, “and let the U.N. call me an aggressor?”

Ever since that honorable vote of November 29, 1947, the United Nations has been in full retreat, a collective hiccup, oh, wait, maybe not — and designs of genocide hang in the balance.

Yonatan Netanyahu’s little brother, Benjamin, who also served in Sayeret Maktal, now leads the Israeli determination to exist as Prime Minister.  How much safer and more rational would the Middle East be if the Israeli right to exist, the basic right to exist, were simply acknowledged?

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